A hearing in the Jodi Arias trial on Friday, January 3 yielded no re-trial date.
The closed door hearing–the public and media have been barred from the trial since late last year–did not end in a set date for which to re-start the trial.
The next oral argument regarding the set date is scheduled for January 13 at 9:30 a.m., according to the blog Court Chatter.
“As parties emerged from the courtroom, prosecutor Juan Martinez looked pleased while [Arias attorneys] Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Wilmott did not,” the blog said.
Troy Harden of Fox 10 in Phoenix commented via Twitter on not being allowed into the court room again, a recurrence that has frustrated reporters and some members of the public.
Judge Sherry Stephens has held hearing after hearing behind closed doors as the next steps of the case unfold almost entirely under a shroud of secrecy after the trial began with complete transparency and easy access, reported AP.
“Over the last several months, she has heard arguments over sequestering the new jury, moving the case out of Phoenix, Arias’ desire to fire her lead attorney and allowing live television coverage of the retrial, among other issues,” it reported in December. “She has denied each request, but quietly with orders released days after the secret hearings as the case languishes without public scrutiny even as Arias’ legal tab is being picked up by taxpayers at a cost exceeding $1.7 million.”
“The trial court has gone from transparency to blackout and bewilderment,” said attorney David Bodney, who represents several media outlets, including the Arizona Republic, fighting for transparency. “There have been repeated flagrant violations of the public’s constitutional right to attend proceedings.”
But Phoenix defense lawyer Mel McDonald, a former Maricopa County judge and federal prosecutor, said that Stephens likely didn’t expect the nationwide publicity and coverage that the trial garnered, and is trying to maintain a court room that can find “an impartial jury” and not risk “prejudice and error.”
Arias was convicted of killing her boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008, but the first phase of the trial ended without a definite sentence, prompting the second phase that is in the scheduling process right now. Arias said she killed Alexander but in self-defense.
Prosecutors wanted another phase to try to get the death penalty for the 33-year-old.